Ace Spectrum is about you — the ACE Learning Centers.
It’s a quick sharing of ideas, inspiration, opinions and best practices among our continuing education organizations.
Please join the conversation.
ACE Learning Center Empowerment Stories – An Oscar Nomination, Flexible Continuation School and Rights Posters
By Martha Sessums, President, ACE
In August, 2016, I predicted it would be a year of empowerment for students and leaders at ACE Learning Centers, and they have not disappointed. In fact, their inspiration is above and beyond expectations.
Above Expectations – The Oscars are scheduled for this Sunday, February 26, and KALW Audio Academy graduate Daphne Matziaraki’s (’14) film 4.1 Miles is nominated for Short Subject Documentary. One of five nominees, the film is about rescuing refugees off the coast of Greece told from the perspective of a Greek Coast Guard. It is a powerful film – watch it here. Her work is an inspiration, and we will enjoy many more stories from Daphne. Yes, being nominated is an amazing honor, but really, we want Daphne to win and take home that golden Oscar. Never the less, no matter how the Academy members vote, we’ll take the empowerment!
Also Above Expectations – Oakland International High School empowered its students in a Reading Class last October where they studied and discussed their rights living as documented and undocumented immigrants in Oakland. The result was a series of posters and postcards about a variety of rights we all have regarding the right to education, right to fair wage and fair treatment at work, right to interact with police, right to free speech and assembly, and how to protect and defend the right to remain in the U.S. They are concise and easy to read and understand.
The cards and posters are in English and other languages spoken in Oakland, and are available free from OIHS. The ACE Spectrum posted about the program in January, and it has been a big success. The posters and cards are in their second printing. Empowerment in your pocket and on the wall!
Beyond Expectations – San Francisco International High School (SFIHS) is patching the cracks in the high school system of alternative continuation classes for students with unique needs. San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) supports continuation schools that offer independent study coursework, flexible schedules and counseling services to students for whom the traditional high school schedule of 8am–3pm, Monday–Friday will not work because they work at night or during the day. The big crack in the system is that these programs have not been open to English learners.
“Too often, this gap in programming has pushed our students out of school,” said Kyle Halle-Erby, SPAN Program Director at SFIHS, in an ACE Spectrum blog.
After a presentation to SFUSD, the high school won an Innovation Award to fill this gap. SFIHS knows how to design a satellite continuation school to better serve unaccompanied, recently arrived immigrant, ESL students who need to work full time, but they didn’t have the space. By showing the need and offering a case history of one student, they convinced the district to let them partner with the central office to pilot their continuation program this Spring, allow them to reenroll students who had dropped out, plus explore a move to an expanded campus next school year that accommodates SFIHS’s growing student population and education processes.
As Julie Kessler, SFIHS Principal said, “Please show these students that they matter, and give them an education that is worthy of their strength.” Check out the presentation here.
Gaining empowerment often requires support from teachers, administrators, organizations, storytellers, professionals, family and fellow students. But it also takes the recognition of empowerment’s value as a lifelong goal that drives a student’s personal best to reach out and grab it.
There will be many more ACE Learning Center empowerment stories to come. Stay tuned.
By Guest Columnist Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio
After many months of training, the Academy fellows have reached the point of regularly getting their stories on the air.
We asked every member of the class to make a feature about the neighborhood just down the hill from KALW, and they’ve been spending many weeks crafting them with their mentors. The first set of those features on the Portola District aired Tuesday, and they were a joy to hear. Cari Spivack‘s story took on one of my favorite topics: how do you actually pronounce Portola? Jeremy Jue brought us into a multigenerational gaming hub. And Boawen Wang showed us there’s a book club in the district for people with developmental disabilities. It was a lovely Valentine’s Day show!
This was also an extraordinary week of content on KALW’s Crosscurrents in which the work of our Audio Academy alums — and some current fellows — were really showcased.
On Monday, four stories by Angela Johnston (’14) and Eli Wirtschafter (’16) about California’s high-speed rail came together in a scene-rich documentary. The two reporters traveled up and down the rail line, bringing a range of stories and voices from the Central Valley up through San Jose and to San Francisco to give substance to the infrastructure debate. The stories were organized in a beautiful online package, and the doc was featured in The New York Times’ “California Today” section.
On Thursday, current Academy fellow Josiah Luis Alderete went to San Francisco’s Civic Center to record the “Day Without Immigrants” demonstration, which we paired with information from Cari Spivack about how quiet the Mission District’s cultural center was with store closings. Their work, contextualized with President Trump’s press conference that morning and information about his policies and rhetoric, set up a cohesive picture that led into a package of sound-rich stories about Japanese-American incarceration during World War II, including Academy alum Hannah Kingsley Ma‘s (’15) lovely profile of a Kindergarten teacher who was incarcerated as a five year old
As we approach spring, the foundational education we’ve developed with Audio Academy fellows starts to manifest in their storytelling. It’s an exciting time for them, and for me, and we’ll be sharing many more stories in the coming weeks and months!
Audio Academy graduate Geraldine Ah-Sue (’16) dropped by KALW last week to record a piece that will be air soon on Crosscurrents. She just landed an audio production job with one of San Francisco’s most popular museums. I asked her to share some thoughts about how the Audio Academy affected her life, and here’s what she had to say:
When I was a child, much to my dismay, I wasn’t allowed to watch television. Well, I was on a very restricted diet: approximately 2 hours of TV a week. But two hours wasn’t enough. I craved to know what was happening on the tube. So, not being able to sit directly in front of it, I’d instead sit just outside of the TV room, where I could still hear everything. I’d hear scenes from shows like I Love Lucy and Bewitched, a network crime drama or a sitcom, and that’s how I’d watch television. By listening.
“Think with your ear.”
I’ve been thinking about these words a lot lately. This was one of the first pieces of advice I took home from Audio Academy, and it’s still with me. I realize that since childhood, I’ve actually been consuming stories with my ear, passively constructing them in my imagination. Audio Academy is where I got to turn that script upside down, where I got to come out of hiding from the room next to the television and actively make a story specifically intended for the ear.
With Audio Academy, I learned the language and tools needed to consciously be my own audio storyteller. I learned about sound-gathering, scene-setting and script-writing; finding characters and talking to them; tracking, mixing and sound design; and, perhaps most importantly, how empowering it is to make a world of audio! I spent so much of my childhood thinking that accessing stories through the ear was a kind of deprivation. Audio Academy showed me how to take that experience and turn it into a super power of creation. I recently got hired to produce SFMOMA’s second season of their podcast, Raw Material. This season we’re focusing on art and social justice, and I’m taking everything I’ve learned from the Academy — skills and heart — with me.
By Guest Blogger Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio
We’ve been putting a lot of energy, at KALW, into covering how the Trump Administration is trying to change the world. Much of the recent work by the Audio Academy and its alums reflects that. Check out some of these examples:
Cari Spivack and Jeremy Jue did some on-the-spot reporting as President Trump’s executive orders around immigration began to come down. Their research helped me put together this informative conversation with our host, Hana Baba, as the news was unfolding.
The weekend after President Trump signed the executive order banning residents from seven countries and all refugees from coming into the United States, Cari and Liza Veale (’15) went to San Francisco International Airport on separate occasions to document the protests. Here are the sounds they recorded.
Jeremy put together this piece showing the ways in which school districts around the Bay Area have responded to the President’s executive order to increase enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. On Friday, I adapted that and paired it with this conversation I had with the San Francisco Unified School District Chief of Staff about the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.
Also, Hannah Kingsley-Ma (’15) worked with students from the SFUSD who attended the Women’s March in Washington D.C. She spoke with them before the trip, trained them on how to record during the demonstration, and then interviewed them after the experience. It resulted in this story.
We heard back from one of the adults who helped coordinate the trip. Here’s part of what she had to say:
I’ve heard from Aglow and Briana after you aired their voices. They were both really proud. Aglow shared it with her class. Briana’s sister told her that she had spoken for her too, and how important her voice was. It’s been pretty life-changing for them — thanks for providing them the platform for real voice, and a new way to see themselves.
This is the kind of work that drives and fulfills us, and we’re proud to provide a platform for voices that otherwise wouldn’t be heard.
Here are some thoughts from Academy fellow, and my mentee, Nicole Grigg:
Working in the KALW newsroom as an Audio Academy Fellow is invigorating. Electric. Even when everyone has headphones on, silently buried in their computer screens, the energy in the room is inspiring. I sought out this fellowship in order to leave commercial radio behind and retrain as a journalist to work in public radio and tell stories that are in the public’s interest. The Audio Academy gives me purpose, focus, and supports my goals to that end.
Imagine a space where smart, thoughtful, diverse, kind people interact, create and help one another reach for a higher standard by sharing ideas and better practices. That is how I would describe my experience in the newsroom at KALW.
Ethics in journalism is a topic that is really heating up for all of us lately. Where are the lines between being a reporter and honoring the values in one’s personal life? What can we do to ensure that we are reporting with integrity and honoring other points of view in the community? Is there such a thing as unbiased objectivity or is balance in our reporting a more honest goal? Our editors and managers are working hard to create a space to listen to all of us and help us navigate this new-ish political and social climate.
I think the aspect of this fellowship that I value most is my mentorship. Ben pushes me when I get distracted and challenges me to do better and think in color. I still aspire to be proficient at Pro Tools, and I am sure that I will get there! I am confident that I will get to where I want to be and beyond because of this Audio Academy Fellowship. It is an honor to be in this space.